The Victorians left an indelible stamp on culture that continues to be in evidence today, not least of which is their refinement of the...

The Victorians left an indelible stamp on culture that continues to be in evidence today, not least of which is their refinement of the realist fiction medium known as the novel and their innovations, which led to the birth of fantasy and science fiction – two of today’s most popular genres. This period also gave rise to a Victorian “crisis of faith,” as the traditional Christian beliefs that had underpinned British society for centuries faced new challenges from scientific discoveries, the writings of Charles Darwin, and exposure to other cultures. In her book Genres of Doubt: Science Fiction, Fantasy and the Crisis of Victorian Faith (McFarland & Co. Publishers, 2017), Elizabeth M. Sanders argues that these two shifts—one literary and one cultural—were deeply intertwined. She writes that the novel, a literary form that was developed as a vehicle for realism, when infused with unreal elements, offers a space to ponder questions about the supernatural, the difference between belief and knowledge, and humanity’s place in the world. She revisits familiar, representative works from the period, organizing her analysis around how they exemplify particular responses to or strategies for dealing with the problems raised by the new questioning of the supernatural.

Elizabeth M. Sanders holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Iowa. She works in corporate and foundation relations at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and speaks at conferences about career transitions for Ph.D. graduates. She was recently a speaker at the Beyond the Professoriate online conference and her book was recently nominated for the Mythopoeic Society’s Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies.


Carrie Lynn Evans is a PhD student at Université Laval in Quebec City.

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